Thursday, September 10, 2015

Taking a Spin

File:Earth within celestial sphere.gif

In her May 2015 column, “Tell Me About It,” Carolyn Hax posits, “[We] don't feel the earth move, but that doesn't mean we aren't spinning around the sun.” Hax used this as an analogy to illustrate that we are often unaware of the effect our words or actions have on others. We may not “feel” it or recognize it at the time, but they do have the ability to impact another person—sometimes good, sometimes not.

A few months ago, a young man who went to school with my sons told me my family and I had made a lasting, important and positive impact on him as a teenager. He said when he observed and interacted with our family he witnessed unconditional love and support for the first time in his life.
This comment came after I told him how proud I was of him for his many achievements and way he has conducted his life. To my amazement, he gave much of the credit for his successes to me.
If asked what I recall about the times this young man was in our home, I believe I would have remembered the many times of teenage turmoil and my almost constant feeling of parental ineptitude.
What he remembered, however, was laughter, trips to the coast, doting grandparents nearby, hearty family dinners, a loving father who took time to listen to and talk with his sons. Average family, right? Maybe not.

If you know me well at all you know I do not ever get offended. It’s not that I have an elevated sense of self and can’t imagine someone making a remark to purposely offend me. I simply choose to put a different “spin” on the comment. Seems to me one chooses to “take offense.” 
On the other hand, there have been times when I’ve learned that something I said has had a negative impact on another person. I do understand words have power and am aware there are times when my personality is too forceful. Even so, it usually takes a beat or two before I understand that, even though I did not intend to show disrespect, my words hit the person in a vulnerable spot. 
In these instances, I take a mental “step back,” thank the person for telling me, do a mea culpa, try to explain, and move on.

I am honored when I’m told my words or actions have benefited someone else. I am chagrined if my words or actions cause offense.

The laws of nature mean we’ll never really feel ourselves spinning around the sun. I don’t take offense, but after traveling zillions of miles around this central body in our solar system, I am finally understanding the effect I, one speck in the *whirling rubble, might have on those in my orbit. 

Wikimedia Commons: Earth "This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license."
*Thank you, Richard Dawkins.